The planning feature on Storypark – what’s possible? More than you may think!
After listening to educators around the world, we realised that everyone plans differently and that there could be no one-size-fits-all solution. Based on this feedback we developed a tool that enables educators to create and manage their own planning templates, and plan the way they want. The planning feature is a flexible and versatile tool that can support your programme, intentional teaching, group and individual planning, as well as teacher and centre-wide development and planning. You can also use the planning feature in a broader way such as for annual or strategic planning, teacher goals and appraisals, event planning, team meeting minutes, management plans, QIP, internal review, policy reviews and so much more! Before we get into exploring the tools and possibilities right at your fingertips, let’s start with a little background knowledge.
What does the planning feature support?
In New Zealand, the Storypark planning feature supports the collaborative nature of planning, involving everyone who needs to be contributing to a plan – children, teaching teams and families. It allows for plans to be evidence-rich with the ability to add to and grow plans for children, teachers and administrative purposes. This is not only a valuable way for all to collaborate and work efficiently together, but it also helps you provide evidence towards ERO indicators and recommendations within Te Whariki 2017.
In Australia, Storypark planning supports the ongoing cycle of documentation, planning, evidence and evaluation. This allows everything to be in one place that is accessible to those who are involved – the teachers and family. Storypark also provides the opportunity to build a picture of learning and development over time, supporting critical reflection of the evidence to make appropriate decisions and plans of where to next/possible pathways for individual children and groups.
Storypark planning can contribute to the evidence required to achieve the following assessment areas:
1.3 Assessment and planning – Educators and coordinators take a planned and reflective approach to implementing the program for each child.
1.3.1 Assessment and planning cycle – Each child’s learning and development is assessed or evaluated as part of an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection.
1.3.2 Critical reflection – Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, drives program planning and implementation.
1.3.3 Information for families – Families are informed about the program and their child’s progress.
7.2.2 Educational leadership – The educational leader is supported and leads the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle.
How do I get started with creating a new plan?
For detailed instructions about how to get started creating a new plan, take a look here. You can choose whether to start a blank plan or use one of our templates.
Each plan requires a title, this way it is easy to find amongst all of your centre’s other plans. From there, you are able to fully customise your plan, depending on your unique needs.
Once you get going, you are able to select individual children, a selected group of children, or all children. When you add children to a plan, the plan will then appear on each child’s profile page. This makes it quick and easy to see which plans they are currently in.
In addition to this, when you add a child to a plan, they are also added to the plan’s ‘share’ settings. You then have the option to share with parents of children in this plan. If selected, that means that parents will have access to a view and comment-only version of the plan. This will then show up on their child’s profile page. More details about how to add children to a plan can be found here.
It is important to note, that if a child is added to a plan, it is recommended to invite at least one other educator to the plan. In this way, if an educator leaves or is away, other educators can still access and continue to work with the child’s plan.
Now we get down to the nitty-gritty of the planning feature! Within each ‘cell’ you are able to click on a content tab. This will open a text box which is where you can write text, format text, colourise the cell, upload photos and videos, attach documents, add learning tags, and link to stories, plans or notes.
Learning tags are an important part of the planning feature, as this is where you link to curriculum and assessment areas. This is all possible with just a few clicks of a button. Find out how quickly you can do this here.
Just as you are thinking “how can this possibly get any better”, did you know that you can even link stories, other plans and notes? You can even add stories from your teaching portfolio here. The good thing is, making these links is super simple too. Check out how to link these here.
Pro tip: using the My Portfolio option is an excellent way of adding evidence for your appraisal or goal-setting plan.
So as you can tell, a plan can contain ideas, reflections, photos and videos. It can link to evidence, curriculum and assessment areas. It can even have responses and reflections from all teachers, and parents! We often hear that one of the things educators love the most about the planning feature is that you are able to edit the template you are using to add, move and delete more rows or columns. You are also able to edit, move or copy each cell in your plan. This means that if a plan evolves or changes in any way, you can quickly alter it to fit your needs. This is such a time-saver!
Can I categorise my plans?
Let’s talk about categories. Once you have created your plan, you have the option to add one or multiple categories to your plan. This is an INCREDIBLE tool, that if used right can save you lot’s of time spent searching for historic documentation that directly links to or supports a current plan. There are limitless possibilities as to which categories you create. Action plans, appraisals, excursions, assessment, development plans, events, goals… the sky is the limit here!
Using categories gives you the ability to filter through your plans. This is where the magic happens. You can filter by recent activity, date, who the plan is shared with, which children are in the plan, by learning tag, or by the categories. Find out more about how to use this tool here.
Can I save a template to use in future plans?
One of the great things about the planning feature is that if you have created a plan, and find that it is working really well for you and you would like to use it again, you can save it as a template. No more time spent trying to recreate “the one”. In saying that, it is best to save this template before you add any content. You can also add guiding text so that it is evident to other educators how to use it.
Who can I share plans with?
Sharing plans with others allows for true collaboration. If a plan is created, it can then be shared with the whole team, selected teachers, a room or parents. Teachers can edit, add content and respond to your plan. Parents can also have access to plans, they can’t edit content but they can contribute by adding responses, ideas, aspirations, and add context in the comments section. They can also add photos so that continuity of learning is truly in action. This provides a truly collaborative sharing space.
If a plan has been shared with a parent, it will appear in a new planning tab on their child’s profile page. If the plan includes multiple children, other educators can see each linked story or child note. However parents are only able to see their own child’s individual stories and notes within the plan, or in the case of a group story, it is only visible to the parents of the children in that story.
What are the 3 different types of plans?
When opening the planning tab, you will see three different types of plans:
- Open plans that are active and are still being added to and worked on
- Archived plans which are completed plans that have been closed
- Planning templates that are available as a starting point for a plan
When first using the planning feature, you will see that we have provided 13 templates as a starting point for you. These can be adapted and edited to meet the needs of your learning service. This is a fantastic way to jump in quickly rather than try to create the perfect template from scratch. Here is a rundown on how to get started using the templates. Over time, as you build up your own set of templates, you will have 2 lists. ‘Our Templates’ which are the templates you have created and saved, and ‘Storypark templates’ which are our templates that you can use and save at any time.
Plans can become rather large and complex, and as a result of this can be hard to read on a small device. For this reason, they are not able to be accessed within the family or educator apps. You can, however, access them through the browser on your device.
Tell me more about the planning feature!
Need convincing that the planning feature is a really valuable tool? Shirley Fyfe from East Sale Kindergarten was one of the educators who trialled our planning feature way back when it was in the development stage:
“The introduction of something new can often seem overwhelming and I think it’s important that you allow yourself time to explore, trial and reflect on how a particular template may or may not work at your service. As with everything, what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. I think its best to just start with one or two templates, trial them and then together with your team and families, decide what may or may not be working, where you might be able to adapt an existing template or where you might be able to create new Storypark planning documents that work optimally at your own service.”
Want to learn even more?
- If you are wanting to dive deep into using the planning templates, don’t forget we have an entire section of our help centre devoted to planning.
- Some of the best support you can get is from other educators who have been using the planning feature for some time now. If you haven’t joined our private professional practice community on Facebook, it really is a great place to ask for ideas and help from the almost 5000 educators from all corners of the world.
- FINALLY, we have our very own PLD team here at Storypark who regularly host online workshops created for people just like you! Our planning workshop is a very popular workshop, so register for one today and you will soon be planning like a pro.